What Is a Restaurant Menu?

A more comprehensive definition of a restaurant menu would be the food and beverage selection that is offered by a particular establishment. It can be either à la crate or table d’hôte. The former is where specific and individual options are offered while the latter is where pre-established courses are offered instead. Many restaurants print their menus on laminated paper sheets or on boards of varying materials. Then there are those that make use of posters, digital screens or even indoor display boards. Online menus have also become commonplace since the end of the twentieth century.

As of 2018, some of the leading trends of restaurant trends in the United States have included new cuts of meat (69%), African flavors (69%), doughnuts with non-traditional filling (64%), and Ethnic condiments (62%), among others. These stats were reported by Statista, which also revealed the top five leading restaurant produce trends in the U.S.: heirloom fruits and vegetables, uncommon herbs, hybrid fruits and vegetables, exotic fruits, and super fruits.

50+ Restaurant Menu Format, Templates in PDF, Word

The Elements of a Restaurant Menu

Before you get started, it is worth looking into certain elements that each restaurant menu needs to be as effective as possible. These are not difficult to achieve but it is the consistency of its inclusion that restaurant owners need to be aware of. Familiarize yourself with the following and see how they contribute to the success of any establishment and its marketing plans.

Readbility: The one element that you cannot afford to neglect for your menu would have to be readability. Fonts that are easy to understand need to be included and they cannot be too small either. Concerning language, not only should it be adequately descriptive but also appealing to any reader. You also cannot go wrong with choosing fonts that contrasts with the menu’s background in order to give it a good pop.Allure: Beyond the language that you use, there is also a lot of room for pictures of your dishes. Doing so in conjunction with your descriptions will make an irresistible combination that few people would be able to resist. Remember that poor lighting should be avoided and the placement of both images and text need to be done in a way that compliments the overall design of your menu.Variety: Menus with a varied selection of dishes will be more attractive to customers than those that are limited. However, you do not need to go for versatility just for the sake of it. Remember to gauge what your establishment is capable of preparing on a daily basis. If you cannot handle a selection that goes past a certain amount, then do not force it. Too much variety may serve to overwhelm customers than satisfy them anyway. As long as it is varied enough to appeal to more diverse appetites, then you should be good to go.Branding: Branding is an all-encompassing element that touches on numerous parts of the menu. Your logo is a big part of branding and needs to be seen on your menu. The color schemes of your design is part of that too. Other things that you need to take into account that comprises your restaurant’s branding will include the unique font, the specific dishes, its names, and a few others. The point of branding is to create a distinct atmosphere for your establishment that will click with customers and connect them to you in a deeper level.Organization: Organization is the last key element and an underrated one at that. Customers do not want to do all the work, so you need to make sure that your menu is already organized in a way that makes look through it easy for them. This will involve where the pictures are placed, the order of the dishes, the category of the food, and so much more.

How to Create a Restaurant Menu

Now that you know the elements, the time has come to finally put together your restaurant menu. The step-by-step procedure listed below is guaranteed to help you come up with a decent menu in a way that is both quick and easy.

Step 1: Write Down Each Menu Item

The first thing you need to take care of would be the listing of the items to be placed in your menu. You can do this by writing your ideas on a piece of paper or perhaps with the use of programs like Google Sheet or Excel. Once you have determined what to include later on, you can comfortably move on to the other aspects of your restaurant’s menu.

Step 2: Divide Everything into Sections

To make all the information and content you’ve got planned out easier to digest, it is recommended that you categorize and divide your food items. Doing this will also make it easier for you to come up with a design layout later on. Many categorize their items between “appetizers,” “main courses,” “desserts,” and “beverages.” You can choose to go this route, or you can customize your categories in your own way, depending on what kind of restaurant you are running.

Step 3: Choose a Color Scheme

The choice you make here will depend on your restaurant’s branding. Pick out a color scheme that is consistent with everything else. It can be something simple, like going for three predominant colors only and sticking to that. Whatever you pick, it is worth looking into what it means according to the psychology of colors.

Step 4: Write Down the Prices of Each One

After the color scheme, the next step is to specify how much each item on your menu is worth. Even though listing down the dishes happened all the way in the first step, the pricing is something far more important since this deliberately impacts your sales strategies. There are multiple factors that will go into your decisions here. How much the ingredients cost is one, for example. Another would be the popularity of the dish. Then there’s the category they fall under. Appetizers should not cost more than entrees. Carefully consider each potential factor before listing down a price.

Step 5: Write Down Each Item’s Description

This next step involves coming up with appealing descriptions for each item you’ve come up with and priced. You can include its most attractive feature, perhaps even what specific ingredients you’ve used. A tip to keep in mind is to write as evocatively as possible, which will be expounded upon further below.

Step 6: Finalize Everything

The last part is for you to proofread what you’ve written and decide if everything so far has been to your liking. Check if there are no mistakes and if there are, fix them. See if the design is as effective as you can manage it to be as well. From there, you may print out the menu in any manner that you see fit.

The Dos and Don’ts of a Restaurant Menu

Knowing about the elements and the steps form just part of the process. If you really want to make sure that you’ve got a top notch menu on your hands, you need to keep in mind certain dos and don’ts. By doing so, you prevent yourself from falling into avoidable pitfalls and guarantee yourself a measure of success that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

Dos

Do write evocatively
One of the things that can help you win over your customers is evocative language. Replace the mundane words and phrases that you would normally use with those that are more emotionally descriptive. You may, for example, use the word “scorching” instead of “very spicy.” Another example would be using the word “saccharine” in the place of “sweet.” Create an experience that envelopes your customers in addition to informing them of what you have to offer in terms of dishes.

Do write with your brand in mind
Any content you put out needs to follow the image of your brand. This includes not only the language you use but also the visual elements. All of it needs to target your market and perpetuate how your brand is meant to appear as. How you go about it is up to you. You can either take the risks you are willing to take, go for a safer and friendlier tone, or perhaps something in between. Provided that it falls under the scope of your branding, then there’s nothing to really worry about.

Do categorize the contents of your menu
How you arrange your items will affect how your restaurant runs. By categorizing, you can cut down on your table turnaround, allowing your staff to serve customers better. However, take it into account that there’s much more to it than just separating your appetizers and desserts. For example, it may be helpful to repeat certain dishes on various sections if it can complement another. Perhaps you can even explicitly recommend dish pairings whenever it is applicable.

Do make use of quality printing
The perception of a restaurant by its customers will often be reflected in the reality of its success. How your menu looks contributes greatly to that perception. Therefore, it is a wise choice for any establishment to invest in high quality printing. Greater quality will provide any of your menus with far more credibility. Going for cheaper options will dilute the overall quality of your menu’s content, which in turn, affects your brand. As long as it fits into your startup budget, for those who are new, then always go for the better quality.

Do A-B test your menu
Remember that mistakes are inevitable, especially when you are still learning how to create a menu from scratch. Another thing to keep in mind is that no sales tool is ever perfect and room for improvement is always present. To help reach the level of quality you envisioned, A-B testing is the way to go. Create various versions of your menu and see how each of them works out. Examine the data gathered from each menu’s conversion rates. Through this method, you can be assured that you do not spend too much time and effort on a menu that is mediocre at best.

Don’ts

Do not place currency signs on the menu
One strategy that comes highly recommended is to remove any traces of currency signs on your menu. In doing so, you end up encouraging your patrons to buy more. The logic behind it is that having dollar signs puts even more emphasis on the purchases they are making. Most people do not want to be reminded that they are spending, so refraining from placing currency signs will take some of the stress and pressure off them. An exception can be when you are specifically trying to compete with others in terms of pricing.

Do not make it difficult to read
An easy-to-read menu is something that customers are guaranteed to appreciate and there are multiple ways for you to do this. First comes the font style and size. Both must be legible enough for patrons of all ages to understand clearly. It shouldn’t be too small and it ought to be clear enough. Second, the placement of the content needs to be designed well so that the overall flow is easier to follow. Some may not mind a zigzag design, but there are just as many who will find it a hassle to read. Third, do not go overboard with the descriptions as far as word count is concerned. Be straight to the point as much as possible.

Do not neglect authenticity
You may be tempted to adopt certain practices because you found out how effective it was, but remember that everything you do needs to be authentic. Stay true to your brand and your customers will also see your authenticity for themselves. This resonates within menu creation as well. Don’t just include something or do something because you think it will do you good. Ask yourself first if it is something that is appropriate for your brand. If the answer is yes, then by all means proceed. If not, then don’t do it. Authenticity helps build brand loyalty, after all.

Do not neglect your restaurant’s online menu
Your restaurant’s menu does not always have to be something your customers can grasp and feel in their hands. A digital presence is important for any serious business these days and you need to design an online menu as well. People who have never been to your restaurant will want to do their homework first. By coming up with an online menu, you can give them the information they want before they make their final decision to patronize your restaurant or not. Take note that the overall design does not have to be identical to the menus at your physical restaurant. Make it appropriate for your customers’ PCs and mobile phones.

Do not forget to tell a story while you are at it
At the core of branding is storytelling. There is a good chance that your restaurant already has its own backstory, just like many establishments that came before it. Do not pass up the chance to contribute to that story through your menu. Every choice you make—from the colors, the design layouts, and the dishes you reveal through the menu—is just another minor detail in your restaurant’s overall storytelling efforts.

Well, there you have it. A quality restaurant menu isn’t as easy as some people may think to create but it doesn’t have to be incredibly difficult either. Those who do not want to start from scratch may decide to look up restaurant menu templates online. Make the necessary edits so that it fits your vision and branding before proceeding to the next part of your restaurant planning.